Fair warning: this fic is gonna be slathered in faerie mythology because I'm a bit of a whore for that kind-of thing. Especially the Gaelic variety. There are really sexy fae in Gaelic Mythology.

Al gets...a little OOC at times, because he's, well, you'll see. And it's hard to portray him canonically when he's like that. Besides, some people like a darker, edgier Alfred, so, who knows. *Shrugs*

Anyway, onward! Prompt is Arthur arriving home to find the little Alfred he had left there is no longer a little boy, and then proceeds to be unable to hold all his sexy feels. And then there is sexy times. And stuff. I hope you all like it!

Originally written for theheroandhisbrit on Tumblr. Total time to completion: aprox. 6 hours. Unbeta'd. May contain grammar and spelling errors.

***

Normal people don't take home things they find in wicker baskets beside the road near the thicket.

Arthur had never really considered himself a "normal person". Neither had his classmates in school, or his parents for that matter, or his older brothers, and his cousins. They all thought he was a tad bit "odd".

But Arthur was grown now, and he had long ago drawn a line in the sand between himself and the rest of society as a whole. If they wanted to call him names and whisper about him behind his back, he would let them. He wouldn't give them any indication of caring. He was fine with being left alone.

But of course, being "left alone" and being "alone" are two very different things, and he would complain sometimes to the brownies in his garden about how he was lonely, ("except for when you lovelies visit me, that is!") and that he regrets being so hasty and pushing the other children away. He wishes he had been patient enough to make one real friend.

Regardless, he thinks it's some kind of luck to find the basket in the grass by the road. At first, he had assumed it was someone's laundry, fallen out of their vehicle, or accidentally left on the roadside after a quick rest stop. But when he leans over to examine it, he finds he is wrong.

Inside is a child. A little boy with golden hair, sleeping peacefully in the soft folds of the sheets that has been hastily thrown into the basket.

Arthur is dumbfounded. Who leaves a child on the side of the road like this? He lifts his head at this point to look around him, in both directions, to see if maybe someone is nearby. But he doesn't see anyone. He looks back at the infant, sleeping in the basket. And it seems so odd to him, so much so he pinches himself, and is rudely proven incorrect. The child in the basket is real. And he is definitely awake.

He doesn't know what to do at first. Should he take the child? Was there some kind of place he should take the baby to? What if the child had been set there momentarily, and the mother would be back soon, only to find her child gone?

Arthur shook his head. That was ridiculous. Any parent who just leaves their infant on the roadside like this isn't very responsible, as far as Arthur was concerned.

Arthur takes the basket in his arms, and then decides that he should wait a bit, and see what happens. He plops himself under the large birch tree nearby, and settled in to wait.

He waited for a while, until the weather decided to be uncooperative, and drizzle began to soak his hair and clothes. Arthur came to the conclusion that taking the child with him was far less cruel than leaving it there on the roadside in the rain, where it would catch pneumonia or flu or some other nasty sickness.

He scooped up the basket again, and adjusted it before he made to leave and head home. But he paused before he got too far, and glanced back towards the birch tree.

Hadn't he been to that tree before? The thought nagged him unnecessarily on his way home. He seemed to recall some faded memory of a dark haired man who used to play with him near that tree when he was growing up.

"Ridiculous," Arthur told himself as he trudged up the pathway to his house. "It's probably just some old dream I had, and got confused. It's not uncommon."

Juggling the basket and his keys proved difficult, but he finally got his front door open, and nearly dropped everything onto the "Mind the Gap" mat in his front hall. He felt lucky, because it was a few seconds later when the drizzle became a heavy downpour, and the sounds of the storm echoed through the dark, empty house loudly, even through the closed door and drawn shutters.

He tugged his leather shoes off, dripping all over his hardwood floors as he tottered off to the bathroom to retrieve a towel. He came back, and the infant was stirring, swiping at it's eyes sleepily with his hand.

Arthur felt his mouth tug despite himself. The child was endearing, and he realized that he rather liked having someone around who wouldn't judge him quietly behind his back. He gently lifted the toddler from the basket, and swaddled it in the towel to dry its damp hair.

The child gave a cooing laugh, patting at Arthur's hands and giggling, as if the act was a game to him. Arthur pulled the towel back, and was met with the bright cerulean gaze of the child, who broke out into a wide, toothy smile.

"Hello there," Arthur said, smiling back. The baby was very handsome, his tousled gold mane and bright eyes offset by his peachy skin dotted with tiny sun freckles. He didn't even find it strange that the infant was already used to his presence, almost as if he and the child had known each other all their lives. He hugged the child to his chest, rocking him gently as he went to retrieve his phone, and call the local police station to report the missing child.

"Surely someone is missing you right now," Arthur mused. "I'd better do the right thing, and let the authorities know. You'll be home with your Mum and Dad soon!" He rubbed the tip of his nose against the baby's, and the child laughed gleefully.

There was a pang of something at that moment, as if he wasn't sure that he should even pick up the phone and call. His fingers flexed over the receiver for a long while, until he clenched his teeth, steeled himself, and called the police station.

The storm chose this very moment to snap off a very loud crack of thunder, and in a bright flash of lightning, the lights became extinguished, throwing the whole house into pitch darkness. Arthur yelped loudly, and the child simply screamed jubilantly, as if he was enjoying some game.

"This has been a series of odd events," Arthur grumbled to himself tiredly. "I don't mind watching you for a while, but...I can't do a thing in the dark." He gave the child a once-over in the dim light that came in through the kitchen window, within arms reach of the phone. "And I can't just keep calling you, 'Hey, you there,' now can I?" He studied the child closely, and the child stared right back, gazing deep into Alfred's eyes. The dim light filtered into the azure orbs and seemed trapped there, a luminescent sparkle in the dark sea of his iris.

"You have this look about you," Arthur mused. "I bet the fair folk fancy you!" He gave a short laugh, and the child smiled, as if he understood what Arthur had said. The man regarded the child again, and this time his sight fell on the child's tiny ears, which had an unusual shape to them, almost as if someone had taken the boy by them and lifted him off the ground, and they had stayed that way. They pointed softly at the tips, not enough to garner immediate notice, but gave him a rather exotic look.

"I don't know your name, and you don't have any way for me to know what it is, so...I think I'll give you a name for a while," Arthur rationalized. "I'll call you...let's see..." He paused here, and was thoughtful. "Kevin? Conrad? Oliver? Alan?"

The baby made a series of disapproving faces at the names Arthur recited to him, until, at last, Arthur said, "What about Algar...no, wait, that was my grandfather's name, no, that won't do. What about..." He paused again, his thick eyebrows scrunched together in deep thought. "What about Alfred?"

The child laughed delightedly, clapping his small hands together and smiling widely.

"The young prince approves!" Arthur said, lifting Alfred above his head. "Then, for now until you are safely back with your family, your name shall be Alfred!"

Alfred gave an enthusiastic cry and flailed his limbs as he was lifted into the air and then back down again, clinging to Arthur's damp sweater when he got close enough.

"Now, what should I do first? I suppose it would be useless to try to do anything in the dark, so that comes first." A sharp growl from Alfred's stomach punctuated the pause. "And then dinner comes next." He smiled and ruffled the child's hair. In response, Alfred laid his head on Arthur's chest, and closed his eyes with a small sigh of satisfaction.

Arthur smiled softly, and rocked him gently as he went to check on the fuse box.

-

The storm had knocked out power and phone lines in the nearby area, and so it would be several days before Arthur would be able to call the police, and with the storm getting progressively more violent, going out wasn't an option.

Arthur was glad, for once, to have a gas-powered stove. It kept the house warm, and allowed him to cook, even in the blackout. And while the food was rather boring (a quick stew made with beef, carrots, potatoes, and onions), Alfred didn't seem to mind. He ate it with gusto, chewing noisily on the larger meat pieces and chunks of potato. Arthur watched him carefully to make sure he didn't choke or have an allergic reaction to anything, and wiped the boy's face when he was done.

The candles that flickered throughout the house gave it a slightly eerie atmosphere, and Arthur fetched some old stuffed animals he had here and there around his house for Alfred to play with. The boy loved the stuffed rabbit, but he didn't seem to enjoy the bear as much, giving it and its coveralls with the polished iron buttons a rather scathing glance. Arthur felt it was just as well, since it was a keepsake from his brother, the middle child who had been quiet and rather fond of books. His oldest brother lived nearby, and they kept in touch, but they weren't as close.

Alfred grew tired in the late evening, and Arthur carried him up to the bedroom on the second floor, the boy coddled in one arm, and the other hand carrying an old oil lamp he kept around in case of emergencies. By the time he set the lamp down on the side table, Alfred was already sucking contently on his thumb, and blinking heavily, as if he was fighting tooth and nail to stay awake.

"Sleep time, love," Arthur told Alfred in a quiet, soothing voice. "Shall I read you a story? Would you like that?"

Alfred smiled around his thumb, so Arthur fetched a storybook from his personal collection by the desk in the corner of the bedroom. He curled up in bed beside Alfred, and began to read.

"Once upon a time there was a little chimney-sweep, and his name was Tom. That is a short name, and you have heard it before, so you will not have much trouble in remembering it. He lived in a great town in the North country, where there were plenty of chimneys to sweep, and plenty of money for Tom to earn and his master to spend. He could not read nor write, and did not care to do either; and he never washed himself, for there was no water up the court where he lived. He had never been taught to say his prayers. He never had heard of God, or of Christ, except in words which you never have heard, and which it would have been well if he had never heard."

Alfred's lids closed long before the first page was finished, and Arthur trailed off into silence, staying still until he knew Alfred was fast asleep before he undressed carefully, and climbed into bed. He put the lamp out, and drew up the covers with a soft sigh before he touched his forehead lightly to Alfred's. It was a while still before he was able to surrender himself to dreams.

-

Arthur got to know Alfred over the next few days or so. He came to understand that Alfred was very bright, and while he did not speak, his face and laugh were enough of a clue as to how he felt, or what he thought. He would give Arthur serious looks, and focus intently upon him when he spoke. He would sit in Arthur's lap, and lie against his chest, smiling sweetly as Arthur stroked his hair. And he would often sit by the window, and stare out at the gray, rain-soaked sky that he could see from there, almost wistfully. At these times, his eyes would take on a gray hue, the clouds mirrored in his sapphire gaze, and Arthur was reminded of the puddles he jumped in as a child.

Other times, Alfred was a bundle of energy, and he would climb all over Arthur, or crawl around the house like a little rabbit, and Arthur had a hard time keeping up. Alfred would hide in cupboards and under overturned baskets and leap out to grab Arthur's ankles as he walked by, causing the man to yelp every single time without fail. Alfred seemed to delight in pranks, but he also enjoyed being held and sung to. Arthur wondered if the boy had a pet back home, because the boy was very attached to the rabbit, and was rarely without it. He would catch the small boy petting it as if it was a real animal, and cooing to it in soft tones. Arthur always felt his lip quiver slightly when he saw it, because Alfred just seemed so sad.

Three days after their first meeting, the storm cleared up, and Arthur decided they could go outside finally. Alfred seemed delighted, and Arthur bundled the boy up as best he could in an old shirt, and a scarf he had hastily knitted the night before. He had nothing that would fit Alfred, and he worried that the boy would get cold. But Alfred seemed to enjoy being out in the open, and even flailed around happily in the wet grass of the back lawn when Arthur set him down momentarily to spread a blanket for them to sit on. Alfred ended up damp, and Arthur scolded him gently while he used his own sweater to try to dry Alfred off a little. His own peacoat did little to ward off the cool air of the spring afternoon, even with the sun shining brightly through the thin cloud cover.

Arthur had brought his sketchbook with him, and Alfred sat in his lap for a while, watching intently as the charcoal moved across the page, bringing a small bird Arthur had spotted nearby to life in black relief. Alfred didn't try to grab for the stump, surprising Arthur, but he did crawl out of Arthur's lap once the sketch was finished. The boy ambled to the edge of the blanket, and became eerily still and quiet. Arthur looked up, and stared in surprise as Alfred sat, his palms open and flat, nose to nose with a small pixie.

She was small, only as tall as the boy's hand, and she had tiny gossamer wings on her back, which flickered and twitched much like a dragonfly's wings do while it sits still on a long piece of grass in summer. Alfred's eyes were wide and expressive, fixed on the pixie as if she were the lead in a play, and indeed, the little pixie had no fear of Alfred, and even danced on his palm after a moment to observe him. Alfred's response was to laugh and giggle, and when she hopped onto his knee instead to continue her dance, Alfred clapped his hands, enthralled.

Arthur quickly turned to a fresh page and sketched deftly. A pixie in his yard was not new—he spoke to them frequently—but Alfred's interaction with one was something he wanted to capture forever.

Arthur knew the faeries had favorite types of people. Alfred's shining golden locks and bright blue eyes were just the kind of thing they adored. It was no wonder the boy was covered in freckles! Arthur, on the other hand, was a plain sort of man. His disliked his straw-coloured locks that hung limp and messy on his head, and his green eyes that the faeries felt were boring. If it wasn't for his gift of the Sight, they wouldn't visit him at all. To them, he was almost one of them, but because he was still human, there was an invisible dividing line, and Arthur was never allowed to cross it, as much as he longed to.

The faeries were more understanding than the other children. They had called him a liar and a dreamer, and pushed him when no one was watching. They put glue in his hair and tacks in his shoes, and someone even spread a note telling everyone that he was "a stupid tool who leaves milk on his windowsill like a pillock." It was a simple thing, really, but children are cruel, and they never stopped teasing him because they knew his secrets. They knew he wasn't quite like them, and that he was different, and they didn't know what else to do but attack him for it.

Arthur bore it all silently. He never cried in front of them, never let on that he was actually devastated inside. Boys pushed him in the halls, or tripped him as he made his way up or down the aisles. The girls whispered in hushed tones as he walked by, and passed notes about him back and forth, even handing them to him to give to the person next to him, knowing he might look at them and see what they were saying. He never got asked to an event. He never made any friends.

"He's just a gormless nerd who likes to read books on faeries like a little kid," they would say in casual conversation as he passed. "He needs to grow up. Faeries aren't real."

He wanted to silence them, to leap at them and tell them to close their ignorant mouths, knowing that somewhere, a faerie was in pain and crying because of what he had just said.

"Why would you give me this gift?" Arthur sobbed to the flowers one day. "Why would you give me this gift if I am only going to be hurt and sad all my life? I don't want to be here anymore. I don't want to be around those people anymore."

But Titania didn't answer, because she had more important affairs to deal with than him.

Arthur tried to block out the pain. He remembered looking through fields of clover with his cousins, trying to find a four-leaved one to give to a leprechaun in exchange for a wish. He remembered his older brother reading him stories about the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Y Ddraig Goch, and having serious discussions about whether or not the elves truly are as wise as they are said to be. And he remembered his oldest brother threatening to throw him in a loch, and let the kelpie eat him. He had been joking, of course. Or, at least, Arthur had hoped he had been joking.

His brothers and cousins had been as supportive as family can be, but he had no one to share his experiences with. His oldest brother would force himself to smile, and pat Arthur's head, uttering, "That's nice," almost automatically.

Arthur forced himself back to the present, where Alfred was still playing with the pixie, only now there was several of them, and a brownie as well, and they were all playing with Alfred, dancing around just within his reach, and the boy was laughing brightly and trying to catch them. Arthur smiled to himself. Alfred was still young enough and innocent enough to believe in faeries, and his hair and eyes made him just right for the faeries to be attracted to, so there was no shortage of curious fair folk wanting a glimpse of him. Arthur felt comfort that, even if it was just for a while, he would have someone to share his gift with, someone who could see the faeries like he could, and that was a wonderful feeling.

Arthur finished his sketch, and Alfred rubbed at his eyes tiredly, so Arthur gathered him up, and took him back inside, setting him on the floor with the stuffed rabbit before going back outside to fetch the blanket and a few other things he had forgotten. When he came back inside, Alfred was staring up at him intently, as if he wanted something.

"What is it?" Arthur asked, forgetting momentarily Alfred could not answer him. He crouched down so he was more on Alfred's level, and paused a moment to see if Alfred would do something.

Alfred grabbed Arthur's arm, and pulled himself to his feet. He stood, shakily, for a moment, and then lifted his head again to look into Arthur's eyes properly.

Arthur's breath baited, trapped momentarily in his chest as he watched Alfred in fascination. The boy lifted one small hand, and put it to Arthur's cheek. Alfred's eyes did not leave Arthur's, even when the boy moved his hand, so that it covered one of Arthur's eyes. He left it there for a moment, and then made an almost grabbing motion before pulling his hand away. He then splayed his hands wide, and grinned, as if he had just done something amazing. Arthur chuckled.

"What did you do, hmm?" he asked kindly. "Did you try to steal my eye?"

Alfred shook his little blond head. He pointed to Arthur's eye again, and made a sound that sounded almost like insistence.

"Of course you didn't steal my eye, love, it's right here." Arthur touched his lower lid under the same eye, as if to prove a point. "See? Still here."

Alfred made an impatient noise, and looked around him. He fell gracelessly back to his knees, and crawled over to a nearby cabinet that had a green cloth dangling over it. He grabbed the cloth, and tugged slightly, looking to Arthur as if he expected something.

Arthur was puzzled, his eyebrows drawing together in thought. "Is it the colour?" he asked.

Alfred nodded solemnly at this. Arthur chuckled.

"Do you like the colour, love?" he asked, and Alfred broke into a big, toothy smile once more.

Arthur scooped up Alfred. "Well, you're a first. Most people don't like them. Too boring for their taste." He rocked Alfred for a moment. "The faeries don't like me much either. Not like you. They love you, what with your pretty locks and your lovely blue eyes." He kissed Alfred's forehead here. "They rather fancy you. But don't worry. I'll make sure they don't spirit you away, love." He chuckled again, a rich, throaty laugh. "Tomorrow, I'll see about getting you home to your proper family."

Alfred almost seemed to wilt here, the stubborn cowlick in his bangs that Arthur could never get to lay down almost falling over with the weight of his sadness, and Arthur was momentarily taken aback.

"You don't want to go?"

Alfred shook his head vehemently.

Arthur sighed, bemused. "I don't either, Alfred, but it isn't right for me to keep you here. You're a sweet little boy, but you should be with your parents."

Alfred gave a horrid pout at this.

Arthur laughed, and was about to comment when the phone rang loudly in the kitchen. Arthur set Alfred down again, and excused himself to answer it.

"The storm get ye? Couldn't get through for days. Thought maybe ye'd turned it off, until I heard about th' storm."

"Alistair," Arthur smiled despite himself. "Were you worried?"

"Nah," Alistair huffed in reply. "But Rhys'd pitch a fit if somethin' were ta happen t' ya."

Arthur sighed. "Have you spoken to Rhys lately? I haven't heard hide nor hair of him since Christmas."

"Same as always," Alistair supplied. "Lost in his books."

Arthur smiled whimsically. "He must have found some new ones to be this quiet. Not that I blame him, he doesn't get out much. He has to do something with his time."

"You're one ta talk," Alistair admonished. "Ye hardly ever leave yer house! An' when we do talk, ye always go on about faeries-!"

Arthur bit his lip and choked down a reply. Alistair didn't have the gift, so he never could see them, and thus was a huge skeptic. But despite their differences, Alistair was one of the few people who cared enough to talk to him, so it was worth it to hold his tongue.

"Now that I know the phone works, maybe I'll call the police," Arthur said.

"Why?" Alistair asked, curious and teasing at the same time. "Neighbourhood ruffians given ye trouble again?"

"No," Arthur admitted. "They knocked over my rubbish bins last week again, but—that's not the point. I found something the other day."

"A wallet?" Alistair supplied weakly.

"A child," Arthur replied dryly. "In a basket, by the roadside, down by that old birch tree I used to play near..." He paused. "You know, the one by the thicket. I played there all the time, with the dark-haired boy..."

Alistair paused at length, and then sighed irritably. "Arthur," he said firmly. "We promised not ta talk about the Ghillie Dubh anymore, remember?"

Arthur sighed. "Right...sorry."

A silence settled over them, heavy and stifling, and Arthur cleared his throat to break it.

"Still, a child..." Alistair seems lost for words. "You think someone nearby...?"

"Possibly," Arthur agreed. "It's why I want to go to the police and report it. If there was a missing child report, I want to get him home as soon as I can. I'd hate to think that he's separated from his family..."

Alistair made a noise here, vaguely angry. "Arthur, ye can't be takin' in every stray ye find, human or otherwise, just because of some misplaced feelin' of abandonment-!"

"I never once said that you and Rhys weren't supportive and loving," Arthur insisted, reigning in his voice before he upset Alfred. "It's just that...if he is lost...I have a duty to return him to the people who love him, and are hurt by his disappearance."

Alistair didn't reply, and Arthur attempted to swallow the lump in his throat. Finally, he heard his brother speak again.

"Don't get attached," he warned. "The last thin' you want is to get attached an' hurt because ye have ta give him back."

"I won't," Arthur promised, knowing he probably had already broken it. "I just want him to get home safely."

"Good," Alistair replied. "Good."

There was an awkwardness then, so Arthur stumbled over a goodbye, and set the phone back in its cradle. He felt some confusion about what he had talked about—was he doing this because he had felt unloved, or was it truly a noble feeling of reuniting Alfred to his family. And when the time came...could he really give Alfred up?

He would have to, he reasoned. Alfred wasn't his, was never his. No matter how much he cherished the little boy, the short time they had spent together was no reason to form a deep bond. Alfred was simply visiting.

-

Alfred proved to be fussy that night. He refused to eat, and finally Arthur took him upstairs to bathe him, and get him ready for bed, but Alfred had cried and fussed so much Arthur couldn't seem to soothe him. His old tricks were failing him as well, and even rocking him and singing to him did nothing.

"This won't do," Arthur muttered. "What on earth do I have to do in order to appease you?"

Alfred's hands groped for Arthur, and he clung to the sweater Arthur wore with an ironclad grip. Arthur gave up trying to untangle Alfred's tiny hands from the wool after a few moments of struggling, and let Alfred cling to him and cry until the boy cried himself to sleep.

Arthur was struck with a wave of guilt. Maybe Alfred had gotten attached as well. Maybe, Alfred didn't have a family to go back to. Maybe—perish the thought—Alfred had been abandoned.

Alfred seemed to be in good shape. They were no bruises or signs of abuse, and he seemed well-fed and groomed, so Arthur didn't think it likely. But it was hard to deny that Alfred had become attached, and Arthur probably had as well. Hoo boy, talk about making promises you could never keep.

"It's not like I want to give you up," Arthur whispered to Alfred as he settled into bed, fully clothes for fear of waking Alfred by detaching his tiny hands from his sweater. "I just have to do the right thing. I like you very much. I wish you could stay. But you're a little boy, and I can't take care of you forever." He stroked Alfred's golden hair. "I just want you to be with the people who love you."

Alfred shifted slightly, his hands relaxing as his sleep deepened, so Arthur shifted Alfred to the bed, and curled up next to him.

"I'm not good enough for you, love. You deserve so much better."

-

Arthur didn't like the idea of leaving Alfred alone, but he was still asleep in bed, and it was a shame to wake him. Alfred clung to the stuffed rabbit, chewing on its ear in his sleep, and cooing softly every now and then. Arthur smiled, and planted a soft kiss to Alfred's hair before he retrieved his coat and shoes. He slipped out of the bedroom quietly, shutting the door behind him, and made his way to the kitchen to grab something quick before dashing out.

"Can't be too long," Arthur rationalized. "Gotta go and come back soon so I can take care of Alfred." He paused at this thought. Alfred had become a regular part of his life. The boy was energetic, but not troublesome, and he'd been a pleasure to watch for the past few days. Arthur stared at the apple in his hand, and wished he'd just make up his mind already about the boy.

Breaking almost every major rule in child rearing, Arthur left the house (and Alfred, asleep in bed upstairs), got on his bicycle, and made his way into town.

When it was a nice enough day, Arthur usually walked, but speed was of the essence, so he rode the bike into town, barely dodging people bustling around on their way to work. Arthur could only relate a little; he worked from home, submitting sketches to local papers and doing small illustrations for books. It was enough to live on, but it wasn't anything fancy.

Arthur made it to the police station in due time, and politely waited for his turn to speak to one of the officers who was present. Finally, the woman in front of him concluded her business, and Arthur stepped forward nervously.

"Good morning, can I help you?" the officer asked.

"Yes, umm, actually, I wanted to report a missing child." Arthur shifted nervously. "Not mine, you see. I...found him."

"Oh," the officer said, blinking with some surprise. "Can you describe him for me?"

"Umm, yes, let me see..." Arthur rummaged through his coat for one of the sketches he had made of Alfred the previous day. He chose one that didn't have any faeries in it, and handed it to the officer. "He had blond hair and blue eyes. I'd say he's about a year old, give or take."

"Hmm," the officer made an offhanded noise as he began typing the description into the computer, looking for any matches. "Right, right. Where did you find him?"

"Over near the thicket," Arthur explained. "In a wicker basket. I can't tell if he was left there, or..."

"I see," the officer replied. He paused a moment, and frowned slightly. "Well, the only match to that description is a case about..." He paused again, and his frown deepened. "...Twenty years ago."

Arthur blinked. Twenty years...?

The officer shook his head. "Nothing recent. The family might not have noticed yet, or maybe they can't contact us...it could be a number of things."

"I see," Arthur said. "Well, umm, I'd like to leave my contact info then...in case anyone calls."

"Right," the officer said, and handed Arthur a sheet and a pen. "Fill that out, and we'll file it in the system." He turned back to the computer. "Is the child with you?"

"No," Arthur replied absently as he filled out the form. "At home."

"Got a sitter?" the officer replied brightly.

"Yeah," Arthur lied. "He's a sweet boy. Never a problem with him."

"Aww, that's nice. I'm sure his family misses him," the officer consoled. "We'll call you straight away if we get a lead."

"Thank you," Arthur replied, handing the paper and pen back. "Much obliged."

The officer tipped his hat to Arthur as the man left, and Arthur retrieved his bike, and started home.

"Maybe it's just poor timing," Arthur thought out loud. "I couldn't reach the police either for a few days. Maybe they still don't have a phone..."

He pondered the thought the whole way home. There had to be a logical, sound reason for why Alfred hadn't been reported missing yet.

The thought that he had been abandoned flared up in his mind again, and he beat it back down, annoyed. No, Alfred was precious and sweet and charming...why would someone abandon him? It didn't make sense.

Arthur entered the house, and upon closing the door he was struck with how silent everything was. Not the typical silence, where there are birds outside and the floor creaks a little. No, this was almost like the kind of silence that existed in a vacuum. He felt as though the air around him was thick, and that his ears were stuffed with cotton. His own footsteps seemed muffled, and he made his way upstairs carefully, almost hesitantly, the hair on his neck starting to prickle.

"Alfred...?" he called hesitantly. There was no answer.

He walked softly to the door of the bedroom, his heart rate increasing exponentially, until his whole body throbbed with the pulse. Reaching for the doorknob, his hand froze, hovering inches above the copper device, the air on his arms standing at attention. Every sense told him this was a bad idea and to stop do not go inside turn around leave the house don't do it.

He settled his hand onto the doorknob and turned it.

Even as the door swung slowly open, Arthur's heart didn't slow. He felt something was wrong, but he couldn't pinpoint it. He stepped into the room, slowly, one step at a time, an eternity between each one, his green eyes shifting and glancing at every corner, looking for something-

Oh god.

The bed was empty.

Arthur's throat constricted, and he walked faster, stepping up to the bed side, and shuffling the sheets and covers, looking for Alfred. Where was he? Where had he gone? He couldn't have left the room, so where had he gone?

There was a soft, echoing giggle off somewhere behind him, an eerie sound in the vacuum of the house. Arthur froze, his heart beating rapidly, and then turned, looking for the source.

Nothing. The room was still empty, the door stood open, and there was nothing there. Arthur felt his hair rise again, a shutter working its way up his spine.

He turned back to the room, looked at the closet. The door was slightly ajar, so maybe...

He recalled how Alfred liked to hide, to leap out and attack his feet, giggling gleefully every time. It was a game to Alfred. Arthur knew it was likely that Alfred was playing with him. He made his way to the closet, and opened the door with a swift yank.

The closet was empty of everything save his clothes, which were still and where he had left them. The shoes at the bottom of his closet were also untouched. Alfred was nowhere to be seen.

Arthur sighed heavily, his heartbeat slowing slightly. That was one possibility down.

The door clicked shut sharply then, and Arthur whirred around.

There was no one by the door. Arthur ran to it, and twisted the knob.

It opened, but there was no one in the hall. He looked both ways, and then again. Alfred was not there.

It was silly, he realized. Alfred was a child. He couldn't reach the doorknob.

He walked back into the bedroom, and surveyed it again. If not the closet, maybe under the—

The door closed again, and this time, there was the sound of the lock turning.

Arthur's hair raised again, and he whirred around once more, only this time, someone was there.

A man leaned against the door, his lightly freckled skin almost white against the dark wood. He smirked at Arthur, his nose crinkling, his blue eyes twinkling deviously. He shifted, and his golden locks brushed against his forehead, his cheeks, whispering softly.

Luckily, Arthur's throat squeezed shut, or he would have screamed. His green eyes widened, fixed on the intruder, darting all over him.

He wasn't undesirable, that was certain. He was devilishly handsome, in fact. But his mind was still reeling over Alfred's disappearance, and—

Oh.

The man spoke in a hushed voice. "Are you scared, Arthur?"

Arthur could not find his voice. It didn't seem right, and yet...

"...Al...fred...?"

The words were choked, almost too soft to hear. But the man grinned regardless, a toothy smile of victory.

"That's good, you recognize me. That's good." He stepped a little closer, and, on reflex, Arthur stepped back. Alfred frowned.

"What is it? What's wrong?"

"You...you're...why are you...?" He gestured wildly at Alfred.

Alfred blinked, and tilted his head slightly. "Naked?" he supplied.

Arthur's face burned. "Th-that too, but...I meant..." He flapped his arms. "Why are you so...big?"

Alfred laughed. "Why not?"

"You were a small child!" Arthur cried out, panicked. "You were an infant when I left! And now—now—!"

"Now I am a man," Alfred stated simply. "It is as simple as that."

"It is not simple!" Arthur barked. "People do not simply skip several years of growing—"

"I was once a child, and now I am a man. There is nothing to ponder here," Alfred insisted. And then his face fell. "Do you not like this form? Shall I take another?"

Arthur's head swam in bewilderment. "Take...another...?"

"Yes!" Alfred insisted, stepping closer again. "I will take another, and another, until I find the form that pleases you." He reached for Arthur's hand.

Arthur jerked away. "No, no this is...this isn't right," he rambled, backing into the chest of drawers. "You...you are a small boy, and...and I..."

Alfred pinned Arthur to the chest with his body, planting his arms on either side of Arthur to prevent his escape. "You aren't understanding. I can be whatever age I want, Arthur. I can be whatever age you desire me to be." His eyes grew slightly darker, colder, as he continued. "You did not seem pleased when I was a child. So I have come to you, instead, as a man. Will this be acceptable? Or shall I change again? Perhaps to a dog, or a horse. Or maybe a bird."

Arthur shook his head fearfully. "No, please I—I just want Alfred back. I don't know...I'm so confused." He trembled, and licked his lips nervously. "Alfred..how..."

He knew the answer.

"You wanted me to leave," Alfred replied, hurt. "I displeased you in some way."

"No!" Arthur insisted. "No, Alfred, I...I had thought you were lost, and I...I wanted to return you to your family, and-"

"But you are my family!" Alfred retorted desperately. "You are all I want! Give me your love and faithfulness, Arthur, and you will never be lonely or unhappy again!"

Arthur's voice failed him again, his argument dissolving into a pitiful squeak as he felt his chest seize up. Part of him could only see the child Alfred had been. And the other part rather liked the man he had become. Alfred was begging, pleading with Arthur, asking him to love him, practically grinding into his body with need and desire, and all Arthur could do was search for the child he had become attached to. He gave a short, lost laugh.

"I'm so pathetic," he croaked. "I can't see past the child. I can't fathom you being something more than that. I was so blind, it was right there all along..."

Alfred leaned in, his hair brushing against Arthur's nose. Alfred's cerulean stare froze him in place, and Arthur was helpless when Alfred stole a kiss from his lips.

The man was soft and smelled vaguely of something sweet and familiar. His hands were firm, but not aggressively so as he held Arthur to him. Arthur felt soft nips and presses of lips to his neck, and all of his defenses were crumbling.

"Why me...?" He asked, helplessly.

"Your eyes are so beautiful," Alfred breathed against his ear. "Like the moss that grows soft and thick in the deepest part of the forest. I lose myself to your eyes. I have loved you from so far away for so long...all I wanted was to be near you, and to make your loneliness disappear."

"Is that why you appeared as a child?"

"Yes," Alfred admitted without guilt. "I knew you would accept me without hesitation that way. And you did—you opened yourself to me without fear or reservation. You loved me, and cherished me, and I was so...so happy." Alfred buried his nose in Arthur's hair and breathed deeply. "But then...then you spoke of sending me away. I didn't want to leave. I thought you did not like the child I was, and so I became a man, a man that you could love, and who wold love and protect you the same."

Alfred's fingers ghosted down Arthur's spine, and the man shuttered, moaning softly. Alfred's smile widened again, this time into something more feral.

"Don't deny me, Arthur. I want you, and I will have you."

Arthur groaned again, biting his lip to hold it back, and Alfred picked the man up, and moved him effortlessly to the bed. He threw Arthur onto the sheets, and slowly stalked his way in after, crawling over Arthur's body like some jungle cat, all teeth and eyes and painfully graceful.

Arthur's breath hitched a moment. "I've never...been with anyone before," he admitted. "I don't know if I'll...be any good..."

"Shh." Alfred pressed a finger to Arthur's lips and silenced him. "It's alright. Let me pleasure you. All I ask is that you relax, and do not fight me." His lashes flickered down, and he gave Arthur a hooded gaze. "I don't want to accidentally hurt you, after all. I can be...a little rough sometimes."

A shutter rocked Arthur's body, and Alfred grinned his Cheshire Cat smile. Even as Alfred's golden tresses moved down Arthur's body, he was already feeling fuzzy and lightheaded. He thought it might have been the strange smell that was growing progressively heavier with every breath he took. The sweet scent was pleasing, but it became almost thick and cloying after a moment or two, and Arthur swore it was making him sluggish and hazy. He was vaguely aware of Alfred stripping him of his clothes, and he felt Alfred's soft hands firmly pushing his thighs apart, but any resistance he may have had was stolen away by that strange scent.

Arthur had read stories as a child, tales of the fair folk stealing into houses and laying with mortals for pleasure and for love. He had read of the wild nature of the faeries, and how they were passionate and sometimes cruel. He knew Alfred not only wanted to lay with him, but more than likely to possess him, to own his body and heart, and possibly even to spirit him away to the faerie's realm, but Arthur actually welcomed this idea. At least there he would be welcomed, and even if he lost his humanity, forgot what his old life was like, and became a fae like them, he would be happy. It was much better than feeling alone and upset here.

Arthur moaned loudly as Alfred languidly lapped at Arthur's length, which was growing hard under the faerie's encouragement. Arthur's limbs felt heavy and made of lead, but he managed to lift his arm so that he could cover his face with his elbow, both ashamed and scared. Alfred simply laughed, and pulled Arthur's arm away from his face.

"Don't be like that," he insisted. "I want to see your beautiful face twist in pleasure."

Arthur's cheeks burned, and he felt his ears and neck heat up as well. Alfred had already gone back to caressing Arthur's length with the inside of his mouth, so Arthur couldn't do much more than whine and twist his body in protest. Alfred planted his hands firmly on Alfred's hips, and pushed him down into the mattress slightly to stop him from escaping.

"You must tell me if I hurt you," Alfred informed Arthur. "Or if I am doing something you greatly dislike. I want you to be satisfied and pleased with my efforts, Arthur."

Arthur swallowed thickly, and nodded hastily. Alfred slithered up Arthur's body, until he was practically laying on top of the other man, his weight mostly on his elbows and knees. He caressed Arthur's cheek with his hand, and then ran his fingertips across Arthur's lips. When he pulled at the skin, Arthur did not hesitate, but opened his mouth, and let the digits slip inside.

"You're so obedient," Alfred purred. "And you're so lovely, flushed and excited like this. I can't wait to see what you will look like once I've joined my body with yours." He laughed again, low and sultry, and Arthur's ears burned painfully. The fingers in his mouth explored every corner, but quickly settled into stroking Arthur's tongue to help him salivate. Once Alfred felt they were wet enough, he pulled them free, and rewarded Arthur with a kiss.

"Now that you are aroused and relaxed, I can begin the real pleasuring," Alfred explained softly to Arthur as his hand ghosted down Arthur's side, and down the inside of the man's thigh. Arthur flinched as the digits pressed to his entrance, but Alfred silenced and soothed him swiftly by cooing in his ear.

"It will hurt, I cannot lie about that. But the pain is momentary. Be good, and wait for it to pass, and I'll reward you with pleasure you have never dreamed of before."

Arthur's body shuttered in excitement.

Alfred's fingers slipped pass the tense ring of muscles, and Arthur let out a sharp cry of discomfort. Alfred cooed to him again, and flexed his fingers slowly and carefully. Once Arthur was calm again, he cautiously felt around for the spot that would unstitch Arthur completely.

When his fingers brushed the bundle of nerves, Arthur jerked, and almost threw Alfred off of him. The fae responded by roughly pushing Arthur back down, and growling slightly.

"I told you to be still, Arthur. Don't try to escape now. We're getting to the good part."

Arthur whimpered lightly, and tried to relax again. Alfred settled, and became calm and soothing once more. This time when Alfred brushed the spot, Arthur responded by gasping loudly and arching, which seemed to please Alfred much more than the last reaction.

"That's it...good..." Alfred's fingers began to kneed the spot, and Arthur dissolved into a boneless mess of cries and moans and pleas for "More, oh more please Alfred!"

And when the fingers weren't enough, Alfred plunged his length into Alfred, and the man nearly screamed, digging his fingers into Alfred's back and arching into Alfred's body with more strangled cries and pleas. Alfred's carefully gentle nature began to slip, and he fell into increasingly more violent thrusts, growls slipping past his lips with every push. Arthur finally found his rhythm after a while, and rose to met Alfred, the two moving as though they were one. There was an almost hysterical or terrified quality to Arthur's cries, but his words were clearly heavy with the desire for more, and Alfred obeyed them, practically hurting Arthur in his enthusiasm.

There was a frantic crashing of mouths, a tangle of tongues as each tried to control the other, Arthur finally allowing himself to be defeated and overwhelmed as the last shreds of his composer left him, and he arched his back almost clear off the mattress as he let loose a cry of desire and allowed himself release. Stars sparked behind his clenched eyelids, and when he pried them open, panting and gasping, still reeling in the aftershocks, Alfred was wearing a crooked grin, and his eyes sparkled.

"You're stunning when you climax," Alfred told him, kissing his neck tenderly, and kneading Arthur's thighs. "I cannot think of a single sight I have ever seen that has stolen my breath as profoundly as that did."

"Alfred..." Arthur panted, lolling his head to rest against Alfred's. "Oh Alfred...I...I've never...not like that, never..."

Alfred chuckled into Arthur's shoulder. "I can make you feel like that every day, you know."

Arthur let his eyes close slowly. "You want to...take me back with you? Is that it?"

Alfred paused, his hands rubbing small circles on Arthur's sides. "Yes," he said at length. "I want to take you with me, and make you mine, forever."

Arthur mulled it over. "I...I shouldn't," he said at last. "As tempting as it is..."

Alfred sat up, and looked at Arthur's face for a long time, his eyes clearly hurt. "Why?"

Arthur sighed heavily. "You...you want to possess me, don't you? I'm...just a human that you can own and do with as you please aren't I?"

Alfred did not reply.

Arthur pursed his lips. "Have I lead you on, Alfred? Have I made you think something untrue?"

"You love me, don't you?" Alfred asked, fearfully, his eyes wide and scared.

Arthur choked down his words. Alfred looked vulnerable, honest, genuinely afraid of Arthur's rejection. He could not bring himself to hurt the fae anymore.

"Yes, Alfred," he said at last. "Yes, I do love you."

"Truly?" Alfred asked, seeming to perk up.

"Yes, truly," Arthur said, and Alfred hugged him tightly, smiling like a fool, and burying his face in Arthur's shoulder. Arthur smiled wryly, and rubbed circles on Alfred's back.

"I will make you so happy," Alfred told him. "I will make you forget you were ever unhappy."

"I don't want to forget," Arthur admitted. "I want to remember my family, and the happy times I have had with them."

"You won't forget," Alfred told him cheerfully. "I'll bring you back to visit them from time to time. I'll do whatever it takes to make you happy. You are my everything, Arthur. You are all I want. I will do anything to please you."

Arthur caved finally. Alfred seemed genuinely sweet and loving, and so he allowed himself to submit to Alfred's whim. He cuddled up close to Alfred, and let his eyelids droop.

"Sleep well, Arthur," Alfred cooed as Arthur drifted off. "Pleasant dreams."

-

The world, for the most part, forgot Arthur even existed. The small part that did remember was devastated.

Alistair blamed himself, and never really gave up looking. Rhys, who was always a bit closed off, opened up a little more, fear and worry driving him, until he and Alistair were both exhausted and out of leads.

It was the cousins who saw him first. Peadar called up Alistair, frantically, insisting he has seen Arthur late one night near the moor past his house. Alistair thought it was hysterics, but then Conner insisted that he'd seen Arthur as well, with a fair-haired lad, out near the docks where he worked.

Alistair told them both to calm down, because they were giving him the willies. Rhys was strangely quiet through the entire incident, and when pressed, he simply stated that it was possible he knew where Arthur was now, and left it at that. Alistair had never wanted to strangle the man more than he did at that moment.

It was only when he was heading home that he begun to think it over more thoroughly. The last anyone had heard of him, he had reported the missing child, and then seemingly vanished. When the officer he had contacted stopped by to check in, he found the front door unlocked, and the house empty. They had forced open the lock on the bedroom, and found it empty as well. The clothes Arthur had been wearing that day were on the floor, and all of his personal effects were present and accounted for.

It was like he had vanished into smoke.

Alistair looked up to see the fog had thickened, and now he was virtually blind. He staggered slightly, feeling disoriented, and sensing some kind of trickery at hand.

"The fair folk...are just a story," he muttered to himself, making his way forward with slow steps. "This is a normal occurrence. It'll clear up soon."

Then he stopped. It might have been his imagination, but he swore he's head a familiar laugh in the fog. He looked to his left, and then his right, and then turned around.

Through the haze, he swore he saw Arthur. His green eyes were nearly luminescent in the fog, and he put a finger to his lips, as if to ask for silence. Alistair's eyes widened.

He stepped forward, and then stopped. He couldn't see hide nor hair of Arthur anywhere. A small breeze picked up, and the fog lightened a little, allowing Alistair to make out his surroundings better.

He paled when he realized he had been a step away from walking over the edge of the road, down into a steep ravine, and possibly to his death. If he hadn't turned and gone after Arthur...

He sank to his knees and whispered a quick prayer of thanks, and begged forgiveness from the faeries.

-

That was the last anyone heard or seen of Arthur, but Alistair insisted they let it be.

***

Author Notes:

- Alistair – Scotland
Rhys – Wales
Peadar – Republic of Ireland
Conner – North Ireland

- A Ghillie Dubh (Or Ghillie Duh) is a type of faerie, a guardian spirit to trees. He is kind to children, but generally wild and shy. They are rumored to be dark haired, and clothes in moss and leaves. You generally see them mostly at night, and make their homes in birch trees. They're pretty friendly unless you try to hurt their tree.

- "I bet the fair folk fancy you!" – Faeries are rumored to adore those with gold hair and blue eyes. They dislike those with red or coppery hair, and green eyes are a sign of magic, so are generally considered plain in their society.

- I feel that Arthur wouldn't be a super chef, but he'd be decent with basic meals any Englishman would know well, like stew and roast beef and biscuits. I also think it a tad unfair that he would burn everything he made. I happen to like English food...

- Alfred dislikes the bear because it had iron buttons. Iron is poisonous to faeries, and will burn their skin if they touch it.

- Arthur reads Alfred an exert from The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, one of my personal favorite books. The story revolves around a young chimney sweep named Tom, who finds himself spirited off to the world under the sea, where tiny sea nymphs only three inches high live, and goes on many adventures.

- "It's no wonder the boy was covered in freckles!" – Freckles are sometimes called faerie kisses. While they are common on those with fair skin and coppery hair, many fair-skinned people with blond hair develop sun freckles, and I think Alfred would have them.

- Leaving milk on a windowsill is said to welcome brownies into your home, who then clean and tidy for you.

- Tuatha Dé Danann and the Y Ddraig Goch – The Tuatha Dé Danann were said to have been the group of people who existed before the Christians came to Ireland, and were rumored to be as gods. They were eventually driven into the hills (these hill burrows are called sidhe) where they lived to this day.

The Y Ddraig Goch is a red dragon that fought a white dragon, and eventually succeeded in defeating it, foretelling the Welsh people's eventual defeat of the Saxons. Some myths even tie it into King Arthur's eventual rise to power. Y Ddraig Goch is forever immortalized on the Welsh flag.

- A kelpie is a water horse that is said to trick people onto its back, and then drag them into the water and drown them so it can eat them. It is especially fond of going after children.